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Vision helps children understand the world around them, build relationships with loved ones, and reach fundamental developmental milestones. University Eye Center understands the importance of a child’s ability to see. We help children from infancy through adolescence reach their full potential through compassionate care and state-of-the-art technology.

Bifocals for Children

Bifocals may be prescribed to help a child focus and aim their eyes more effectively. Bifocals may be helpful for children who have trouble changing their focus when looking from the desk to the front of the classroom and back again. Some children may show signs of strabismus (crossed-eyes) when looking at very close objects and bifocals may be used to help the eyes aim correctly.

Children's Comprehensive Vision Evaluations

Our experienced practitioners take the time to thoroughly assess the health and function of your eyes, including:

  • Evaluation of eye and general health history
  • Refraction and prescription of lenses for nearsighted and farsighted children
  • Binocular assessment, including assessment of lazy eye and crossed eyes
  • Complete evaluation of eye health
  • Questions about school performance.

Social Story: My Visit to the Eye Doctor

Children's Eyewear

The New York State-licensed opticians at Essilor Eyewear Center are experts in fitting children of all ages, including infants. You may rest assured that your child will be measured precisely and that the doctor’s prescription will be filled to exacting standards.

Designer frames aren’t just for adults; we carry a large selection of frames, including sports safety eyewear, to satisfy even the most difficult cases, and the most up-to-date frames for your children in beautiful colors, size choices and materials. Lenses are made in either polycarbonate or trivex, the two most impact resistant materials on the market, and our in-house finishing lab fabricates the majority of the glasses we dispense. We also carry frames specifically for children with special needs, including children with Down Syndrome.

We offer competitive pricing for frames and polycarbonate lenses starting at $99.00.

Children with Low Vision

Highly specialized eyeglasses, magnifiers, telescopes and electronic magnification systems are some of the rehabilitative measures available to children with low vision. Our optometrists use special charts and equipment to accurately assess children’s vision and design an individualized rehabilitation program to meet each child’s unique visual goals and needs.

We may offer recommendations to a child’s teachers and guidance counselors for classroom accommodations, including CCTVs and computer adaptations and modifications. Our specialists often recommend sunwear and conduct lighting evaluations for children with light sensitivity and provide social services and referrals for Orientation and Mobility Training and Activities of Daily Living Programs as needed.

We help children affected by a range of conditions, including:

  • Achromatopsia
  • Albinism
  • Glaucoma
  • Juvenile x-linked retinoschisis
  • Leber’s congenital amaurosis
  • Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy
  • Optic atrophy
  • Retinopathy of Prematurity
  • Stargardt’s disease (juvenile macular degeneration)

Children with Special Needs

Our optometrists and researchers are pioneers in adapting diagnostic techniques and developing innovative treatments for children with a range of abilities. We provide quality care for children with special needs in a sensitive, non-threatening environment. Ours is one of the few programs in the New York City area dedicated exclusively to providing comprehensive vision care for special needs children.

We help children affected by a wide range of conditions, including:

    • Autism
    • Albinism
    • Cerebral palsy
    • Down syndrome
    • Clumsy child syndrome
    • Congenital deformities
    • Spina bifida
    • Neuromuscular disorders
    • Genetic anomalies
    • Mental retardation
    • Congenital rubella syndrome
    • Cortical blindness
    • Deafness or hearing loss
    • Legal blindness
    • Total blindness
    • Failure to thrive
    • Shaken baby syndrome

We spend an average of two hours with each child in order to evaluate eye health and visual function. Our doctors often collaborate with other members of the child’s health care team to get a full sense of her/his needs and set appropriate goals. An individualized plan is developed to treat any issues and help each child reach his or her full visual potential.

Clinical Trials

At the Clinical Vision Research Center, members of SUNY Optometry’s faculty, research partners and patients work together to advance vision care. We streamline the process of government-, foundation- and industry-sponsored clinical research.

What You Need to Know About Clinical Trials KIDS

Infant Vision Services

We know that your baby has a whole lifetime to see and learn. But did you know your baby also has to learn to see? As a parent, there are many things that you can do to help your baby’s vision develop. First, proper prenatal care and nutrition can help your baby’s eyes develop even before birth. At birth, your baby’s eyes should be examined for signs of congenital eye problems. These are rare, but early diagnosis and treatment are important to your child’s development.

We can examine a child long before he or she is able to say his or her first word. We have equipment and techniques that enable us to examine an infant during their first year of life. We recommend that all children are seen within their first year to rule out any possible eye problems. Your child should be seen earlier if there are specific problems noticed.

At birth to six weeks of age, your child should be able to:

  • Stare at his or her surroundings while awake
  • Momentarily holds gaze on bright light(s) or bright object(s)
  • Blink at a camera flash
  • Move his or her eyes and head together occasionally

From eight weeks to 24 weeks, your child should be able to:

  • Begin to move his/her eyes more widely with less head movement
  • Begin to follow moving objects or people (eight – 12 weeks) with his or her eyes
  • Watch your face when being talked to (10-12 weeks)
  • Begin to watch his or her own hands (12-16 weeks)
  • Be able to look at his or her hands, food, bottle while sitting (18-24 weeks)
  • Start looking for and viewing more distant objects (20-28 weeks)

From 30 weeks to 48 weeks, you may see that your child:

  • Turns his or her eyes inward while inspecting hands or toys (28-32 weeks)
  • Watches activities around him or her for longer periods of time (30-36 weeks)
  • Looks for toys he or she drops (32-38 weeks)
  • Visually inspects toys he or she can hold (38-40 weeks)
  • Sweeps his or her eyes around room to see what is happening (44-48 weeks)
  • Visually responds to smiles and voice of others (40-48 weeks)
  • Sees objects and people more consistently (46-52 weeks)

From 12 months to 18 months, you may notice that your child is:

  • Using both hands and visually steering hand activity (12-14 months)
  • Visually interested in simple pictures (14-16 months)
  • Often holding objects very close to the eyes to inspect them (14-18 months)
  • Pointing to objects or people using the words “look” or “see” (14-18 months)
  • Looking for and identifying pictures in books (16-18 months)

From 24 months to 36 months, you may notice that your child:

  • Occasionally visually inspects an object without needing to touch it (20-24 months)
  • Smiles when he or she views favorite objects and people (20-24 months)
  • Likes to watch movement of wheels, egg beater, etc. (24-28 months)
  • Watches his or her own hand while scribbling (26-30 months)
  • Visually explores and steers his or her own walking and climbing (30-36 months)
  • Watches and imitates other children (30-36 months)
  • “Reads” pictures in books (34-38 months)

From 40 months to 48 months, you may notice that your child:

  • Brings his or her head and eyes close to a page of a book while inspecting the book (40-44 months)
  • Draws and names circles and crosses on a piece of paper (40-44 months)
  • Can close his or her eyes on request, and may be able to wink one eye (46-50 months)

Learning Disabilities

Children with learning disabilities can reach their full potential and flourish in school and beyond with accurate diagnoses and the right support. We take a holistic approach to diagnosing and treating visual-related learning disabilities. Our doctors and practitioners diagnose vision issues and our psychologists address learning problems in order to make a complete and accurate assessment. Though the majority of patients are children, we offer the same comprehensive evaluations and services to adults with learning disabilities.

A comprehensive assessment of how a student learns is performed by our psychologist.  Our psychologist begins with detailed developmental history of the child and then measures different types of reasoning, memory and working efficiency, cognitive proficiency  and quantitative reasoning.  This combination of assessments gives us insight to the intellectual processing, speech and language development academic achievement, attention skills and personality dynamics.

Which skills are tested in a typical evaluation?

  • Intelligence
  • Academic skills (reading, writing, mathematics)
  • Language skills (vocabulary, listening comprehension, verbal expression)
  • Memory
  • Attention
  • Psychological functioning

Which disabilities related to learning may be diagnosed in an evaluation?

  • Dyslexia (language and reading comprehension)
  • Dyscalculia (mathematical and problem-solving skills)
  • ADHD (attention issues)
  • Dysgraphia (writing skills)
  • Auditory and Visual Processing Disorders (difficulty understanding language despite good hearing and vision)
  • Nonverbal Learning Disabilities (motor, visual-spatial and social skills)
  • Executive function disorders

Myopia Management

What is myopia and what causes it?

Myopia (nearsightedness) happens because the eye grows too long to be able to focus light on the retina (back of the eye). Children who have parents with myopia are more likely to become nearsighted, but there are other causes of myopia that aren’t fully understood. A study by the National Eye Institute showed that only 25% of people in the US were nearsighted in the 1970s – but now more than 40% are nearsighted.

Will my child’s vision continue to get worse every year?

Once a child develops myopia, the average rate of progression is about 0.50 diopter (D) per year. A diopter is the unit used to measure glasses and contact lens prescriptions. Based on expected progression rates, an average 8 year old child who is -1.00 D, may be -6.00 D by the time he or she is 18 years of age. Myopia generally stops progressing in the late teens to early twenties.

What are the best options for my child?***

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any drug or device to slow the progression of myopia (also known as myopia control). But studies have shown that some drugs and contact lenses may help slow myopia progression. Using approved drugs or devices for other treatments is called “off-label” usage. Below is some general information about off-label options for myopia control.

  • Atropine
    Prescription eye drops
  • Bifocal or Multifocal Glasses
    Glasses with more than one power
  • Multifocal Contact Lenses
    Contact lenses with more than one power
  • Orthokeratology
    Rigid contact lenses worn overnight

Schedule a consultation with the Myopia Control Clinic by calling (212) 938-4015 or emailing for more information. There will be a $50 consult fee that is not covered by insurance. Fee reductions are available to eligible patients.

*** This content is only meant to provide an overview of options. Your child may not be a candidate for all treatment options. You should talk to your doctor about potential treatment options in more detail.

Vision Therapy

Vision therapy is a sequence of neurosensory and neuromuscular activities individually prescribed and monitored by the doctor to develop, rehabilitate and enhance visual skills and processing. The vision therapy program is based on the results of a comprehensive eye examination or consultation, and takes into consideration the results of standardized tests, the needs of the patient, and the patient’s signs and symptoms. The use of lenses, prisms, filters, occluders, specialized instruments, and computer programs is an integral part of vision therapy. The length of the therapy program varies depending on the severity of the diagnosed conditions, typically ranging from several months to longer periods of time. Activities paralleling in-office techniques are typically taught to the patient to be practiced at home, thereby reinforcing the developing visual skills

Research has demonstrated vision therapy can be an effective treatment option for:

  • Ocular motility dysfunctions (eye movement disorders)
  • Non-strabismic binocular disorders (inefficient eye teaming)
  • Strabismus (misalignment of the eyes)
  • Amblyopia (poorly developed vision)
  • Accommodative disorders (focusing problems)
  • Visual information processing disorders, including visual-motor integration and integration with other sensory modalities
  • Visual sequelae of acquired brain injury

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